North Carolina consumers who purchase their own health insurance will pay more next year. The State Department of Insurance approved average rate increases of between 10 and 33 percent.
Rates for the state’s dominant insurance company BlueCross BlueShield will go up nearly a third next year. This includes individual plans purchased through the company and those purchased as part of the Affordable Care Act exchange or marketplace.
That means for a middle-aged person living in Charlotte and buying health insurance from the exchange, rates will increase from $326 to $409 a month. Cynthia Cox with the Kaiser Family Foundation says only a handful of cities will see rates increase more than that.
"On average in these 50 major cities that we’ve looked at in each state, the increase is going to be 10 percent. So this is more than double what the average is for other cities," says Cox.
But the increases won’t impact what most customers pay. That’s because nine out of 10 customers on the exchange get a federal subsidy. Though they may have to downgrade to a different plan to keep the same rate.
UnitedHealthCare and Aetna are the only other insurers to offer plans on the exchange for customers in North Carolina. Their rates for all individual plans will rise on average by 20 percent for United Health Care and 24 percent for Aetna.
These rate increases are higher than the companies requested earlier in the year. For example, Blue Cross had initially sought a 26 percent increase, but in August revised that up nine points. The company says they expected healthier customers to enroll in the second part of the year, but that didn’t prove to be true.